Hulk Hogan’s Legendary World Championship History

A few days ago, Hulk Hogan celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his win over Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3, a match that marked the absolute high point of the 80s national expansion of the WWF. It also marked the high point of Hulk Hogan’s first World Title reign, a feat he has repeated many times since. While I won’t say that time flies since it really seems to drag when you spend years doing TNA Impact coverage and waiting for the guy to go away, it does sometimes tend to hit you like a brick when you realize it’s really been that long.

To mark this special occasion, I decided to look back at each of Hulk Hogan’s twelve World Title victories and talk about each one, discussing the circumstances of the title reign and any other fun trivia I decide is worth mentioning.

WWF World Title: Defeated the Iron Sheik on 1/23/1984 in New York City, NY

As I said earlier, this is the one that started it all, but it wasn’t a particularly remarkable match in and of itself. The match lasted all of five minutes, and the Sheik had only been champion for about a month to transition from Bob Backlund to Hogan. This became just another day at the office for the Sheik, while Hogan began a four year title reign, the third longest in WWF/WWE history, and led the company to heights no wrestling company has matched before or since. That said, despite all the crap I’ve given him over the last few years, this really was a magic moment and I defy anyone to watch it, see the crowd react, and not feel like it was something special.

WWF World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 4/2/1989 in Atlantic City, NJ

After having the title stolen from him by Andre the Giant and the Million Dollar Man, Hogan only had to wait a year before regaining the title at Wrestlemania 5 from his former best friend, Macho Man Randy Savage. You can look back at the history (or listen to Jesse Ventura’s commentary during the match) to see how Hogan undermined Savage from literally the moment he won the title at Wrestlemania 4, and spent the next year messing with his mind by driving a wedge between Savage and Elizabeth.

Hogan’s plan worked, because he pushed Savage to the point that he snapped and attacked Hogan, making himself the heel in the situation and absolving Hogan of all blame in the eyes of the fans. It was sneaky, but it worked because Hogan took Savage’s title and his woman, and left him a defeated shell of a man. This was but the first of many times he would do this to Savage over the course of the next decade, as he had seemingly made it his mission in life to leave Savage a ruined wreck of a man.

WWF World Title: Defeated Sgt Slaughter on 3/24/1991 in Los Angeles, CA

After the Ultimate Warrior defeated Hogan for the WWF Title at Wrestlemania 6, Hogan’s only 100% clean loss during his big 1983-1993 WWF run, Hogan spent most of the next year laying low and waiting for someone else to do what he couldn’t his dirty work beat Warrior for the title. Hogan couldn’t have had an easier cakewalk once that someone else finally showed up, because Sgt Slaughter of all people ended up taking the title from the Warrior, albeit after massive amounts of interference and use of foreign objects.

Slaughter had returned to the WWF about six months earlier as an Iraqi sympathizer who thought the United States had become soft, and had turned his back on his country while singing the praises of Saddam Hussein. The idea was to build to a big Wrestlemania 7 main event where Hogan would be the American superhero who vanquished the evil turncoat Slaughter, and the fans would be crawling over each other to get tickets to see it. The only problem was that the war this angle played off of was over almost before it began, and was no longer topical by the time Wrestlemania rolled around.

Well, there were actually other problems, such as Slaughter being the guy Hogan was facing. He wasn’t a scrub or anything, but he was never within driving distance of a World Title at any point in his career before this, and nobody thought he had a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Hogan. Ticket sales for Wrestlemania ended up being so bad they had to move it to a smaller building and claim security issues as the reason for the change. The Hogan win was anticlimactic at best, but that didn’t stop Hogan from beating up Slaughter and his cronies in various handicap and Boot Camp matches for the next six months while avoiding contenders who would actually have a shot at beating him. You know, like how he started teaming with the Ultimate Warrior instead of facing him again. However, as our next entry will show, he couldn’t hide out from credible contenders forever…

WWF World Title: Defeated the Undertaker on 12/4/1991 in San Antonio, TX

Only a year after his debut, the Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title at Survivor Series 1991. Even though Hogan had blown through many “indestructible monsters” in the past, the Undertaker was different. There was no way of knowing at the time what a huge star he would become over the next 20+ years, but you had this feeling like he wouldn’t just be another flavor of the month challenger, and that he might actually be too much for Hogan to handle.

It was an interesting time, because the fans who had grown up on Hogan were just then starting to drift away, and while we would see more concrete examples in the lead-up to Wrestlemania 8 (which I cover in the 1992 Series that I swear I’ll get back to soon), I remember that all my friends at school liked Undertaker better and were pulling for him to beat Hogan. He did end up winning after Ric Flair interfered, but you never really felt like Undertaker was in that much trouble before Flair got involved because the match was laid out very much like the Andre match at Wrestlemania III, where literally nothing Hogan did was putting a dent in him.

However, the Undertaker’s title reign only lasted a week, because WWF President Jack Tunney ordered an immediate rematch due to Flair’s interference. Hogan won the rematch…after knocking Paul Bearer out, pouring the ashes out of the urn, throwing them in the Undertaker’s eyes, and rolling him to get the win. Since both title changes were marred with illegal activity, Tunney stripped Hogan of the title almost immediately and put it on the line in the 1992 Royal Rumble. Hogan failed to win that, then had his Wrestlemania 8 title shot taken away from him so he could face Sid Justice instead, so he beat Justice by DQ and took a nearly year-long vacation. He came back just in time for Wrestlemania 9, where he would once again thrust hiself into the spotlight at everyone else’s expense.

WWF World Title: Defeated Yokozuna on 4/4/1993 in Las Vegas, NV

In another “this would only happen with Hogan” moment, Hulk walked out of Wrestlemania 9 as the WWF Champion even though he wasn’t even supposed to be wrestling for the title on the show. The advertised title match was Yokozuna challenging Bret “Hitman” Hart for the WWF Title, while Hogan would team with Brutus Beefcake to challenge Money, Inc for the WWF Tag Team Title. We should have known something was up when Hogan’s match was in the middle of the show and ended with him losing by DQ, but we all know about hindsight.

So Yokozuna ended up winning the title after Mr Fuji threw salt in Hart’s eyes, but Hogan, ever the opportunist, ran out and pretended to check up on Bret just enough to thrust himself back into the title picture. Fuji had heard Hogan issue a challenge to the winner of the title match earlier in the show, so he made the mistake of offering Hogan an impromptu title shot. Hogan magically forgot all about Bret, rushed into the ring, and won the title in seconds after Fuji, meaning to throw salt in Hogan’s eyes like he had done to Bret, missed and got Yokozuna instead. Hogan quickly laid Yokozuna out with a clothesline, hit the big leg, and won his fifth WWF Title.

Hogan was back on his throne, but he had done quite a bit of damage the way things had played out. Bret had worked his ass off to build credibility as a World Champion, and was rewarded by being completely brushed out of the title picture as the focus now turned to a rematch between Hogan (who refused to work with Bret) and Yokozuna. As for Yokozuna, he was undefeated before Hogan squashed him and turned him into this year’s King Kong Bundy. The fans, who had already begun to revolt on Hogan before he left in 1992, were livid over how he had stepped over Bret and Yokozuna to get his spot back, and were ready for Hogan to go away forever and let the guys who had been carrying the company while he was gone get their shot.

They ended up getting their wish much sooner than even they probably expected, because Hogan and the WWF parted ways again within months, and this time he wouldn’t be back to steal anyone’s thunder. Hogan still refused to drop the title to Bret on his way out, and only agreed to put Yokozuna over if they did a ridiculous finish where some bogus photographer (who was never identified) jumped on the ring apron and shot a fireball in Hogan’s eyes to setting Yoko up to put Hogan away with his own legdrop. Ironically, in much the same way as the Iron Sheik had set Hogan up to be the babyface flagbearer for the company nearly 10 years earlier, Hogan had now set Yokozuna up to become the firs true dominant heel champion in the history of the company.

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Hogan didn’t appear on TV for the WWF again for nearly a full decade, but he made the most of that time by jumping to WCW and making history there as well by winning the WCW World Title on several occasions. We’ll pick up at the beginning of his WCW years in Part 2, but thanks for reading and please send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of Hulk Hogan’s first WWF Title win in 1984, let’s continue our look back at each of Hulk Hogan’s subsequent World Title wins throughout the years. In Part 1 (which you can find by clicking on the Columns section in the sidebar if you’re an Elite), we left off after Hulk’s fifth and final title reign in the WWF before he left in 1993. Let’s pick up in 1994 as he brought the virtues of Hulkamania to WCW.

WCW World Title: Defeated Ric Flair on 7/17/1994 in Orlando, FL

After taking a year off to film the TV series Thunder In Paradise, Hogan made the move to enemy territory as he signed a contract with WCW. His first match in saw him defeat Ric Flair, WCW’s top star for over a decade, in a match that barely exceeded description as a squash. The message was clear: Eric Bischoff was willing to throw away WCW’s entire legacy and all of its top stars (many of whom would go to work for the WWF and would become instrumental in eventually destroying WCW altogether) in favor of Hogan and his flunkies like Brutus Beefcake, the Nasty Boys, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and the Honky Tonk Man, and Hogan’s win over Flair at Bash At The Beach 1994 was ground zero for those changes.

Hogan treated Flair like a jobber for a few months, retired him, and told WCW management to bring him out of retirement so he could beat him again. Hogan’s push at this time was beyond insane, much worse than anything anyone could accuse John Cena of today, to the point that WCW faked a ticker tape parade for the ceremony where he signed his WCW contract and had “police escorts” to arenas he made appearances at. To add insult to injury, the main event of Starrcade 1994 saw Hogan defend the WCW World Title against his best friend Beefcake, who leapfrogged over everyone else in WCW despite being badly out of shape and greatly diminished from the wrestler he was before the accident. Meanwhile, the guy who made Starrcade, Ric Flair, got to watch from home.

After over a year of this crap, Hogan finally had the title pried out of his hands after losing to the Giant by DQ, only to learn later that his manager Jimmy Hart (who turned on him to go with Giant) had written into the contract that the title could change hands on a DQ in that match. Hogan was then upstaged when poor Randy Savage won the title in World War III, threw a fit and proceeded to undermine him even worse than he did the first time around. He didn’t end up taking the title from Savage (not this time, anyway), but Hogan did everything he could to make Savage look like his second banana and an unworthy champion, when Hogan didn’t even have the decency to lose the title by taking a pinfall.

WCW World Title: Defeated The Giant on 8/10/1996 in Sturgis, SD

Hogan had turned heel and formed the NWO with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at Bash At The Beach 1996, and pretty much everyone knew he was getting the title back once he got Giant in the ring again a month later at Hog Wild. This PPV was held at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, and was basically created because Eric Bischoff likes motorcycles and wanted to look like a big shot to guys he could never hope to be as cool or tough as. The WCW fans threw garbage in the ring as Hogan spraypainted the NWO letters onto the title belt, where they would remain for the next year. Oh yeah, and his first major title defense was against Randy Savage, who he squashed and sent into seclusion for months before bringing him back as his sidekick in the NWO.

WCW World Title: Defeated Lex Luger on 8/9/1997 in Sturgis, SD

While the long build to his eventual showdown with Sting was going on, Hulk Hogan spent much of 1997 battling Lex Luger, who racked up one win after another over Hogan in non-title matches. Eventually, JJ Dillon decided that 672 wins over the World Champion qualifies someone for a shot at the World Title, and Luger beat Hogan for the title on Nitro…less than a week before a previously scheduled title match between the two at Road Wild 1997. I’m sure you know what happens next: Hogan pulls out every dirty trick in the book to beat Luger and regain the title after only a few days, cutting Luger’s legs out from under him, and spraypaints the NWO logo back onto the belt. Hogan went on to battle Sting at Starrcade while Luger took a pinfall loss to Buff Bagwell.

WCW World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 4/20/1998 in Colorado Springs, CO

The Hogan-Sting confrontation that we waited over a year for turned into a huge mess when it finally came around, and after months of dumb finishes that destroyed any interest anyone had in the feud, Sting came away looking like the least impressive hero in history even though he wound up with the title. He only ended up being champion for about two months before dropping it to the Macho Man, who got to keep it for a whole day before losing it to his old pal Hulk Hogan. They were doing a storyline where there was dissension within the NWO, and Hogan not wanting anyone in the group but himself to hold the title was a key driving factor in the eventual split of the group into two feuding factions. This match was full of interference like every WCW main event in those days, and Hogan got the win thanks to help from his new buddy Bret Hart, who himself got to come in and be Hogan’s new sidekick even though he was the hottest thing in wrestling coming off the Montreal Screwjob only a few months earlier.

WCW World Title: Defeated Kevin Nash on 1/4/1999 in Atlanta, GA

The infamous Fingerpoke of Doom Incident! Just to recap what got us here: Hogan had lost the title to Bill Goldberg back in July of 1998, and Goldberg continued to remain undefeated until Kevin Nash beat him at Starrcade to win the title, with help from Disco Inferno, Bam Bam Bigelow, and a taser-wielding Scott Hall. Goldberg was supposed to get a rematch on Nitro, but Elizabeth had him arrested on bogus stalking charges,so since Hogan (who had “retired” to run for President…yes, that was really the angle) just happened to be backstage, Nash (who he was still supposedly enemies with after the NWO split happened) challenged Hogan to face him instead. The bell rings, Hogan pokes Nash in the chest with his finger, and covers him to regain the title and officially reunite the NWO. This title change is one of the most frequently cited incidents that contributed to the death of WCW, along with Tony Schiavone’s comment earlier in the evening revealing that the taped Raw on the other channel would feature Mick Foley beating the Rock for the WWF Title. Hundreds of thousands of fans flipped channels immediately, and unfortunately, they missed out on this wonderfully crafted NWO angle.

I’m sure you’re dying for more, but fear not! The conclusion to this series will be up for your reading pleasure tomorrow morning. Until then, please send all feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com.

WCW World Title: Defeated Macho Man Randy Savage on 7/12/1999 in Jacksonville, FL

This was yet the third time Hogan beat Savage for a World Title, the second time he ended one of Savage’s reigns after only a day, and for all intents and purposes was Savage’s retirement match. Savage had won the title from Kevin Nash in a tag match the night before (don’t ask), and of course Hogan came sauntering along to challenge him the very next day. Hogan won, of course, and in doing se he finally achieved his decade-long quest to drive Savage from the business forever (unless you count the TNA stuff, which most don’t).

Hogan’s time around the WCW World Title from here on out gets really depressing to talk about because it devauled the title so much, but here goes. He held onto the title for two months before being defeated again by Sting, who this time turned heel and used a baseball bat to beat the newly-resurgent red and yellow Hulkster. They were supposed to do a rematch the next month at Halloween Havoc, but Hulk came out in street clothes, laid down, and let Sting pin him.

Hogan disappeared for months before returning in 2000 to feud with Jeff Jarrett, who by then was the WCW World Champion. He was supposed to face Jarrett at Bash At The Beach 2000, but once again we were denied the advertised title match because Jarrett now came out and laid down so Hogan could pin him. Hogan was handed the belt and cut some promo about how this is what’s wrong with the company, and then Vince Russo came out later in the night and did the worked shoot promo where he revoked Hogan’s World Title win and set up the real title match later in the evening where Booker T beat Jarrett to become the real new WCW World Champion.

Hogan was not happy about this and eventually sued the company, and BATB2000 turned out to be Hogan’s final appearance with the company. WCW went out of business less than a year later and, with no other truly viable options, Hogan decided the time was right to finally go home.

WWF World Title: Defeated Triple H on 4/21/2002 in Kansas City, MO

Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in early 2002, reforming the NWO with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and setting up a huge Wrestlemania match against the Rock. After years of being despised by the majority of wrestling fans for his conduct in WCW, Hogan was overwhelmingly favored over Rock by the fans at Wrestlemania, so much so that he was turned babyface and returned to the red and yellow (again) almost immediately. The WWF quickly decided to capitalize on the fan support and had him beat Triple H to win the WWF Title on PPV the month after Wrestlemania 18.

This was kind of a big deal since Triple H had himself just returned to the ring after nearly a year on the shelf with a torn quad. It just showed how over Hogan was when he returned, and though he would go back to his known Hogan tricks eventually, he recognized coming in that the WWF was the only game left in town and was far more willing to do business than he had been in the past. He had already lost to Rock at Wrestlemania, and he only held the title for a month before losing it to the Undertaker, over a decade after the last time they met, ending what remains Hogan’s last ever World Title reign.

Though the build to the title win was more interesting than the reign itself, it is notable for one very important reason: Hulk Hogan became the first WWE Champion when the company changed its name following the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit.

Hogan was never in line for another title shot again, but was still heavily featured in the WWF for years to come, first by doing clean losses to both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar over the summer of 2002, then coming back in early 2003 to put Rock over a second time and face Vince McMahon, whom he gave a lot of offense to in their streetfight match at Wrestlemania 19. However, Hogan was still Hogan and, after big timing Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 2005 and going over Randy Orton the following year, he left WWE again for another seven and a half years before returning last month as part of the WWE Network launch.

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And there, in a nutshell, is Hulk Hogan’s World Title resume. It’s really staggering to write a feature like this where you can look back at all of Hogan’s reigns and see how much damage he really did to others while hogging the top spots in both WWF/WWE and WCW. At least now you folks who harp on Cena always squashing the entire roster by himself can look at this and realize how much worse it could be if he was actively pushing for it instead of just doing what he’s told.

Who Was The Greatest Intercontinental Champion Of The 90s?

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I decided to slightly modify an idea I’ve used in the past where, instead of doing one monster tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion in WWF/WWE history (a question I don’t know that I’m equipped to even answer since I never saw Ken Patera or Pedro Morales in their heyday, and not many people who won it after 1998 really mattered much), I’d single out the decade I think was the golden age of the title, the 90s. Over the next few days, I’ll match up everyone who held the title during that decade and gradually whittle them down until we get to the guy I think was the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s.

Before we start, and for those who haven’t seen me do these in the past, this isn’t fantasy booking. This is me matching up pairs of former champions and then deciding, based on criteria including length/number of title reigns, quality of competition, money drawn (if applicable), and any other intangibles I feel are pertinent, who did the better job of being Intercontinental Champion. You’ll see what I mean as we progress, but let’s not waste any time in kicking off the opening round. We don’t have an even 32 people for this one, so four guys get byes and we have 12 first round matches.

Texas Tornado vs Road Dogg

The Road Dogg was a huge player in the WWF during the Attitude Era, but mainly as one half of the New Age Outlaws. While he did have some singles success, his IC Title run, which lasted all of a month or so, was about the high end of it. Kerry Von Erich, on the other hand, more or less started his WWF run by winning the Intercontinental Title from Mr Perfect at Summerslam 90. Perfect had only suffered a handful of losses even though he had been in the company for over two years by that time, and though the Tornado didn’t really set the world on fire as the champion and then lost it back to Perfect only a few months later, just beating Perfect made a huge impact. Kerry probably won’t go far in this tournament, but he had a much bigger impact with his reign than Road Dogg did, so he advances.

Owen Hart vs The Godfather

Godfather was a very entertaining character (and one he rode into his current career outside of wrestling), but who even remembers that he was the Intercontinental Champion? He only held the title for a month, and the most notable thing about it was that he was supposed to lose it to Owen the night he died. Owen wasn’t an all-time great IC Champion either, but he has the distinction of pinning the Rock clean to win his first IC Title, more or less putting an end to the wretched Rocky Maivia persona. Owen goes over, but again, probably not going to go far.

Ken Shamrock vs Chyna

Again, two late 90s guys who weren’t exactly memorable champions, but Shamrock did win a one night tournament over some pretty tough competition to win the title, successfully defended it against some good challengers, and even added the tag title to his collection while still the IC Champion. Chyna got crammed down our throats, won the title in a Good Housekeeping Match, then did an angle where she shared the IC Title with Chris Jericho. Shamrock advances.

Chris Jericho vs Steve Austin

This is exactly the kind of match that illustrates why this isn’t your typical tournament. In any normal fantasy booking scenario, Austin would probably go over Jericho, but in this case, Jericho easily wins. Austin did win the IC Title twice, and because he broke his neck winning it the first time, he had to give it up before even defending it. Then he won it back, defended it once against the Rock, and gave it up again because he didn’t think it was a good enough title for him. Jericho has won the title more than anyone in WWF/WWE history (though most came after the 2000 cutoff), and has had some absolute classic matches with people like Chris Benoit, William Regal, and others with the title on the line. Jericho advances, and Austin goes down in the first round.

Marty Jannetty vs Razor Ramon

Razor was one of the few guys who made the IC Title “theirs” for a prolonged period during the 90s, basically owning it from 1993 through early 1995. He won it four times, a record that stood for years, and defended it against Shawn Michaels in the famous, defining ladder match at Wrestlemania X. I was losing my mind over how happy I was when Jannetty beat Michaels for the title on Raw, but he only held it for three weeks before losing it back to Shawn and heading back to jobberville. Razor advances.

Edge vs Diesel

Diesel was an imposing figure as the Intercontinental Champion, and challenged Bret Hart for the title while the IC Champion at a time you didn’t often see that. Edge would go on to be a great Intercontinental Champion after 2000, but he only held the title for one day during the 90s. It sucks for Edge that the 2000 cutoff came into play, because Diesel was the greater champion during the 90s and will move on.

The Mountie vs Ahmed Johnson

Okay, neither of these guys were all timers, but Ahmed had a much more dominant win and title run, and the Mountie’s two day reign became a punchline for years to come. Mountie’s out, and Ahmed moves on.

Dean Douglas vs Mr Perfect

Not even close, Perfect held it twice and was the first guy in the 90s to establish it as the “worker’s” title, while Douglas had it handed to him before losing it ten minutes later to Razor Ramon. It’s one of Shane’s favorite things to whine about from his WWF stay, but we’re done with him and Perfect moves on.

Val Venis vs Shawn Michaels

Again, not even close. Val was a great worker, but he held the title for like three weeks, lost it, and turned into a censor a couple of months later. Shawn made himself with the way he carried the Intercontinental Title, using it as his platform to drag killer matches out of every stiff they threw him in there with. Guys like Tatanka and Crush never had matches as good as when they challenged Shawn, he was involved in the shocking title loss (and MOTYC) to Marty Jannetty, won it back, did two ladder matches for the title (though only one as champion), and made it his personal mission to upstage the WWF Champion on every single show. No contest here, Shawn advances and will probably keep advancing.

Jeff Jarrett vs Marc Mero

Marc Mero was the Intercontinental Champion for like a month before losing it to Triple H, while Jarrett held it a bunch of times without really making much of an impact. Jarrett gets the nod on sheer volume of title reigns alone.

Ultimate Warrior vs Goldust

Goldust was a very memorable character early on, and the controversial ways in which his character behaved while feuding with Razor Ramon definitely got him attention. He did have some good matches as champion, including the Hollywood Backlot Brawl with Roddy Piper, but the Warrior ended the Honky Tonk Man’s record-setting IC Title reign in under a minute, traded it back and forth with Rick Rude in two very good matches, started squashing Andre the Giant at house shows every night in title defenses, then defeated Hulk Hogan in the main event of Wrestlemania VI to become the first man to ever win the WWF Title while already holding the IC Title. That’s a pretty radical list of accomplishments, and it’s going to be hard for anyone in this tournament to top it. Warrior advances.

Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper

The Intercontinental Title was the one and only title Piper ever held in the WWF at that point, but it was only done as a thank you from the WWF before he left, and also to set Piper up to put Bret Hart over at Wrestlemania 8. This, by the way, is the first pairing in the tournament to actually feature two guys who were involved in a real life title change. Bret behaved as IC Champion the same way he did as the WWF Champion: he defended it against anyone and everyone the WWF threw in there with him, and he had great matches with everyone from the British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, and Mr Perfect to the Barbarian and Haku. Bret moves on to the next round.

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That leaves the British Bulldog, Triple H, the Rock, and D-Lo Brown as the four men getting byes to the second round. We’ll pick this up then, but for now, thanks for reading and please send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

Okay, we’re back with the second round of our pseudo-tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s! This isn’t fantasy booking where I decide who I want to put over as the better wrestler, because the men who had stronger runs as champion, long reigns, multiple title reigns, classic matches, or even major historical moments during their reign are the ones who move ahead. We have 16 men left after yesterday’s opening round, so let’s keep it going!

Owen Hart vs British Bulldog

Owen and the Bulldog obviously have a long history together: Bulldog married Owen’s sister, they were longtime tag team partners and the WWF Tag Team Champions together, Bulldog beat Owen to become the first European Champion, they were the cornermen when Bob Backlund beat Bret Hart for the WWF Title in the I Quit match, and they were both in the revived Hart Foundation. They were also both pretty forgettable Intercontinental Champions, neither had any major title defenses to speak of, and the only reason Bulldog gets the nod and will advance is because he won the IC Title by beating Bret in the main event of Summerslam 92, in Wembley Stadium, in front of 80,000 or so of his fellow Brits.

Razor Ramon vs Triple H

Triple H is a god among men in WWE these days, but as the Intercontinental Champion, he was famous for three things: losing it to Rocky Maivia in what became Rock’sfirst title win, regaining it from Rock a year and a half later in a ladder match, then vacating it almost immediately due to a knee injury. I’ve already established Razor’s cred in his first round match, and Triple H doesn’t have enough IC Title history to match it.

Ken Shamrock vs The Rock

I gotta go with Rock here, he’s another guy who used the IC Title to establish himself when he re-debuted as a member of the Nation of Domination. Shamrock was okay, but he never really defended the IC Title, and before he even won it, he actually failed multiple times to defeat Rock to win it. Rock did more with it, and it was his springboard to the stardom he eventually attained, so he moves forward.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! WHY DID THIS MATCH HAVE TO BE HERE????? Okay, I have to think about this, so I’m going to do the rest of the matches and come back to this at the end.

Texas Tornado vs Jeff Jarrett

Tornado got a big win right as he entered the WWF by beating Mr Perfect for it, but Jarrett held the title more times than Kerry, and held it longer. Jarrett squeaks by since he wasn’t the strongest champion of all time, but he does move on.

D-Lo Brown vs Ultimate Warrior

I already said yesterday that the Warrior had a more dominant run as the Intercontinental Champion than just about anybody, and D-Lo held it once, for a month, and more or less as a joke to add it to his European Title and make him the “Eurocontinental” Champion. No joke here: Warrior advances.

Diesel vs Ahmed Johnson

Talk about the battle of the behemoths! Neither of these guys exemplify a “typical” Intercontinental Champion of the 90s, but they both did well enough to make it here, and Diesel will be the one of them continuing on to the next round. Ahmed was imposing, but he gave the title up after only a couple of months due to the first of what would turn out to be many injuries that hampered his WWF career, while Diesel had a pretty solid run and a memorable title loss to Razor Ramon at Summerslam 94, so Diesel will move on.

Mr Perfect vs Chris Jericho

They were both great champions, but Perfect is going to get the nod here for two reasons. First, half of Jericho’s IC Championship history comes after the 2000 cutoff. Secondly, Jericho never really made it “his” title quite the way Perfect did, to the point where it looked like the king had fallen when Bret Hart finally beat him at Summerslam 91. Tough break for Jericho, but he’s out and Mr Perfect gets to move on.

Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels (Take 2)

Okay, I put it on the side, took a walk and thought about it, and here’s what I came up with: their reigns as Intercontinental Champion were nearly identical. They both used it to transition from tag team specialists into eventual World Title candidates, they both made a habit out of outworking whoever the WWF Champion was at the time, their matches were of equal quality, their opponents were of roughly equal quality, and they spent about the same amount of time as champion. So, I had to fall back on the “when all else fails” tiebreaker: who was better for business?

To answer that question, I decided to use each man’s greatest match as champion to break the tie by seeing which meant more in the big picture. Shawn’s greatest match as Intercontinental Champion was the ladder match with Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X, it became the ladder match by which all others would be judged, and grew to legendary proportions even if, strictly speaking, he had other matches that were better from a technical standpoint.

As legendary as the ladder match became, I’m going to end up giving the nod here to Bret since his best match as Intercontinental Champion (and the one Bret himself considers the best in his career) was the match where he lost the title to the British Bulldog in Wembley Stadium. It was one of only two times I can recall where an Intercontinental Title match main evented a PPV, and not only did it main event, it main evented a PPV in front of 80,000 people at WEMBLEY STADIUM, years before WWE started selling out stadiums for Wrestlemania. It was better than the ladder match (in my opinion), and it showed what an awesome worker Bret was because Davey Boy blew up about two minutes in, and Bret spent most of the rest of the match wrestling himself.

The ladder match was good and certainly historic, but I don’t think it measured up to Bret vs Davey at Wembley, and since the match was key to drawing that crowd at Wembley (as opposed to the ladder match being promoted underneath the two WWF Title matches at Wrestlemania X), I have to go with Bret here. He advances and, tragically, Shawn Michaels goes out in the second round.

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Well, I did NOT expect to have that match in the second round (and was truthfully hoping to avoid it altogether), but there’s our first major shocker of the tournament. I’m back tomorrow with the quarterfinals, but until then, thanks for reading and send your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

Welcome back to Day 3 of the pseudo-tournament to determine the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s! We had a pretty big shocker yesterday when Shawn Michaels went out in the second round, but eight men remain as we move on to the quarterfinals!

Just a quick refresher on the rules: this isn’t fantasy booking, it’s a different kind of tournament where I compare the two men matched up and determine, based on criteria including who was better for business, had better matches, quality of opposition, drew more money if applicable, and other intangibles, who did a better job of carrying the Intercontinental Title. All the crummy, two week champions from the late 90s have already bitten the dust, so let’s get on and kick off the quarterfinals!

Razor Ramon vs Diesel

Another pairing of men who were involved in not one, but two real life title changes in 1994. Diesel was a tough customer and was on a real roll in 1994, riding the momentum of his Royal Rumble performance to his win over Razor for the Intercontinental Title. He would go on to win the tag title as well and then close the year by beating Bob Backlund in eight seconds for the WWF Title, but he spent more of his time as Intercontinental Champion pursuing other titles than defending the one he had. Razor had a stronger track record of defending the IC Title, including the ladder match and his series with Diesel, and he also held the record for most IC Title reigns for a number of years, so he advances and Diesel goes home.

Ultimate Warrior vs Bret Hart

Geez,what luck for Bret, huh? I don’t think there’s any question that Bret was a far superior worker and had better matches, but Warrior was also squashing Andre and slamming him like it was nothing. Yes, it was about all Andre could manage at that point in his career, but you also just never saw ANYONE, even Hogan, manhandle him that way, especially not the secondary champion. Both men main evented PPVs as Intercontinental Champion, with Warrior winning the WWF Title in his, though Bret’s drew a bigger crowd by about 20,000 people. Warrior beat a weak champion to win his first IC Title, but Bret lost his first IC Title to a weak champion, so which is worse?

As much as I can’t believe I’m about to write this, Warrior will advance here because, with all the other factors being roughly equal as I pointed out above, Warrior was made out to be a bigger deal as Intercontinental Champion than Bret was. Warrior was obviously being gromoed for the WWF Title very early on and was getting pushed hard, while Bret was just meant to do what IC Champions do, and only got his WWF Title on a whim when nobody else was available. Brert’s matches were good and he did headline Wembley, but Warrior main evented Wrestlemania as IC Champion, which is bigger in my opinion, had some excellent matches with Rick Rude, and yes, beat Andre, which nobody Bret beat as IC Champion was even close to. Against everything my insides is screaming at me right now, Bret is out and Warrior is in the semifinals.

Jeff Jarrett vs Mr Perfect

I like Jeff Jarrett and thought he worked hard as the Intercontinental Champion, but he just never had that streak of awesomeness that Perfect had when he was the Intercontinental Champion. Perfect’s title defense always seemed more important, and while Jarrett was always portrayed as lucky to be champion and requiring luck or outside interference to get by, Perfect came off like somebody who could hang with whoever he was in the ring with. Jarrett got this far by getting lucky draws, but his luck runs out here and Perfect moves on to the semifinals.

The Rock vs British Bulldog

This isn’t even close, because even though the Bulldog won his Intercontinental Title in one of the greatest matches of the 90s, he only held it for a month and a half and then left the company after rarely even defending the title. Rock held the Intercontinental Title for probably about a total of a year between his two reigns, had great matches with everyone from Ken Shamrock to Ahmed Johnson to Faarooq to Owen Hart and even Steve Austin while champion, and even though he wasn’t main eventing (yet), he was getting over enough that you could make the case that he could draw on his own even on a show without the WWF Champion. He obviously went on to bigger and better things, but Rock’s time as Intercontinental Champion was always underrated, and he deserves to advance to the semifinals, which he does here.

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We’re down to the final four: Razor Ramon, Mr Perfect, the Rock, and (*shudder*) the Ultimate Warrior. We’ll wrap this up tomorrow with the semifinals and finals of the tournament, but for now, thanks for reading and send all your feedback to stupwinsider@gmail.com!

After three arduous, and in some cases astonishing, days of matches between former champions, we’re down to the semifinals and finals of my pseudo-tournament to crown the greatest Intercontinantel Champion of the 90s! This isn’t fantasy booking, it’s a series of head-to-head comparisons where I judge two former champions based on length/number of reigns, quality of competition, money drawn as champion (if applicable), and other intangibles to determine who performed the job of Intercontinental Champion the best.

We’re down to the final four, so let’s not waste any time, we’re on to the semifinals!

Mr Perfect vs Razor Ramon

Perfect and Razor are pretty even in terms of the usual deciding points. They spent about the same amount of time as champion, both did the job of IC Champion and had good matches at the IC Title level without ever seriously being treated like future World Title contenders, and neither was ever really put in a position to draw as champion. Both were good, solid champions who made it “their” title for a couple of years, and put over the new guy when they finally gave it up for good.

However, I’m going to go with Razor here, for a couple of reasons. The first is quality of competition, as Razor’s higher end opponents were people like Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Goldust, and IRS, and I think that group is a higher collective caliber than Perfect’s top challengers like the Big Boss Man, the British Bulldog, Kerry von Erich, and Bret Hart. Also, as great a worker as Perfect was, his only “classic” match as champion that people really remembered was the title loss to Bret. Razor’s ladder match with Shawn hit legendary status, and though both were good matches (and happened in the same arena), I gotta give the nod to the ladder match and Razor Ramon, who moves on to the finals.

Ultimate Warrior vs The Rock

Another pretty even matchup, as both men used the Intercontinental Title to springboard to the World Title and Wrestlemania main events, neither were good workers (or at least Rock wasn’t until after his IC Title days), but both had personalities and in-ring styles that drew people in without needing to be able to outwork the world. Both men were facing and defeating World Title caliber opponents, and both were definitely draws (or could be them if needed) during their IC Title reigns.

However, as insane as this sounds, I have to give the nod to the Warrior AGAIN. For as good as Rock was, Warrior’s competition (Andre, Rude, Dino Bravo) was slightly higher caliber than Rock’s (Triple H, Mick Foley, Ken Shamrock), and again Warrior main evented Wrestlemania as the IC Champion. That alone has been the key to Warrior getting this far, and it gets him into the finals as Rock falls by the wayside.

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Before we get into the finals, I think this is a good time to reflect on how these comparisons have shaken out and what it says about the Intercontinental Title, even in its glory days. Even though it’s regarded as the worker’s title, all the workers went out early and were beaten out by people with the all-time great matches and main events in huge buildings for major PPVs. The fact that the guys in the big time matches also had a much higher ratio of going on to World Title success than the workers really drives home the point that, as good of workers as they may be, that’s not usually enough to get you to that top level in and of itself.

Now, you could make the point that, by virtue of being the secondary champion, these guys aren’t always put in a position to draw on their own, but you’ll notice that the guys the WWF saw something in did get the big matches while Intercontinental Champion. Bret defended the title in the main event in Wembley, Warrior main evented Wrestlemania VI, Shawn and Razor blew everything else at Wrestlemania X away, Rock never main evented as IC Champion, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that nothing was going to hold him back once he got his big shot.

It’s nice for the wrestling purists to believe that the ability to chain wrestle for an hour is all that matters, but this really is an entertainment business above all else, and the results of this tournament, playing out according to the factors it’s basing the decisions on, really bears that out.

Speaking of the tournament, on to the finals!

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Razor Ramon vs UIltimate Warrior

Okay, everyone who thought this was going to be the final match, raise your hand! Yeah, didn’t think so. I really wish I had more to write here, but it’s pretty open and shut as, once again, I have to go with the Warrior. Razor had an impressive run with the title, but it was at a time when business was down across the board, and he never had a chance to main event anything of note. I’ve already gone down Warrior’s list of accomplishments when he was the Intercontinental Champion, and Razor just doesn’t come close to matching any of it. The one thing he could rely on in this situation is the ladder match, but as good as it was, Warrior topped it with the Hogan match at Wrestlemania VI. Honestly, Razor got lucky to get this far because better Intercontinental Champions went down before they had the chance to go head-to-head with him, and as unlikely as the winner turned out to be, the second place guy wasn’t any more of a foregone conclusion.

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I swear I didn’t plan this out this way, or come in with a secret plan to throw out some twist winner, and I really did expect Mr Perfect, Shawn Michaels, or maybe the Rock to win, but this isn’t about who the better worker is, it’s about who did a better job of being the Intercontinental Champion. As much as I would have preferred to have somebody else win this one, if I’m being completely honest and impartial, no Intercontinental Champion in the 90s was a bigger deal in terms of the big picture of business, marquee matches, and quality opponents than the Ultimate Warrior, who against all common sense, is determined by the criteria of this tournament to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion of the 90s.

What Makes A Title A World Title?

A lot of wrestling companies call their heavyweight title a World Title, and while some of those claims have merit, other times you see small, local independent companies claiming to have a World Title and you just wonder, “are they kidding me?”

I’ve always thought there ought to be some kind of criteria to determine what exactly makes a World Title, but in a worked business, no criteria are set in stone to determine whether a particular title should have World Title status.  That’s why it’s so hard to answer a question like, “How many times has Ric Flair been World Champion?”

To try and help define some criteria, I came up with the following questions to ask to determine whether a title really qualifies as a World Title.

Is the title actually defended worldwide?

Let’s start with the literal meaning of a World Title: is it defended all over the world or not?  The original NWA World Title, pre-WCW, fit the bill because it was literally designed to be defended all over the world in several different companies who all recognized that one man as all of their champion.

The NWA Title went everywhere, and did so on a fairly regular basis.  It changed hands several times in Japan, the Pacific, Canada, and even several unrecognized title swaps in the Caribbean.  If you’re talking about the most literal meaning of a World Title, that would be a good starting point.

Then again, other major companies have had a significantly narrower scope.  The AWA World Title changed hands in Japan, but for the most part was only defended in the Midwest and Central Canada, and spent most of its existence around the waist of the promoter.  It was the first major territory to break from the NWA and recognize its own World Title, but it didn’t have the geographic scope.

The WWF/WWE and WCW both toured overseas and their titles were defended there as often as they ran overseas tours, but you could be pretty well assured that there was almost no chance of a title change happening outside the United States.

ECW and ROH, the respective #3 US promotions of the 90s and 2000s, both had limited scope as well.  ECW ran shows around the country, but usually stuck to the Northeast, and Philadelphia and New York in particular.  Both huge markets, but still only two major markets.

ROH has expanded all over the country since Sinclair Broadcasting purchased the company, and the title HAS been defended internationally, but ROH still mainly sticks to the United States.

What kind of television exposure does the company have?

Another thing to consider about ECW and ROH compared to the WWF, WCW, and AWA is that they simply don’t have the same level of television exposure.  In today’s day and age, that TV exposure can mean far more than where the title’s being defended.

A title can be defended every night of the week in a different state or country, but if nobody knows it exists, it’s a definite hit to its value and credibility.  If TV exposure is what’s most important, then that would make the WWE Title the only real World Title today.

ECW was and ROH is on TV, but in both cases the distribution just wasn’t there to have the same kind of effect that a weekly show on USA, SpikeTV, ESPN, TBS, or TNT would have.  In ECW’s case, more of a buzz was created just on tape trading and word of mouth than people watching their TV show.

Who has held the title in question?

What about when you take the champion himself into consideration?  Who was holding the title?  How long was he champion?  Who was he defending the title against?

Samoa Joe was the ROH Champion for nearly two years and was the first to carry it overseas, and later would go on to win the TNA World Title as well.  Other former ROH Champions would go on to hold major gold elsewhere, including CM Punk becoming a multiple-time World Champion in WWE.

On the flip side, some big names have tried and failed to become the ROH World Champion.  AJ Styles, a multi-time former NWA/TNA World Champion, has had three shots at the ROH Title and lost them all.  Bryan Danielson in particular made defeating challengers from outside ROH his trademark, as throughout the course of his reign he went over Steve Corino (a former ECW & NWA World Champion), Chris Sabin (TNA), Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH), Chris Hero (CZW), AJ Styles (TNA), Lance Storm (a champion in ECW, WCW, and WWE), Sonjay Dutt (CZW/TNA), KENTA (NOAH) and Samoa Joe (ROH/TNA) before finally dropping the belt.

A case could also be made for the old USWA Title for the same reasons.  99.999999% of the time it was defended in Memphis and they didn’t have any national TV, so that exposure thing comes into play again, but it also spent most of that 99.999999% of the time around the waist of former AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler, and was originally created when Lawler unified the AWA and WCCW Titles.

The USWA Title has also been held by national names like Randy Savage, Owen Hart, Sid Vicious and Jeff Jarrett, and a lot of other major stars tried and failed to win it.  But because of the Memphis thing, it’s usually viewed as a regional title.

How long has the company been around?

What factor does longevity plays in a promotion’s claim to World Title status?  The UWF and ECW were both considered quality products in terms of great wrestling, solid storylines, and memorable moments, but neither were around anywhere near long enough to measure up to the history of WWE, WCW or the AWA.

World Class was also legendary for its success and overall influence on the business, but they only lasted a matter of years after leaving the NWA.  Many companies that claim World Titles last a decade on average, does that supersede their other qualities?

How often is the title defended?

One of the issues that detractors of Hulk Hogan pointed to was that Hogan often went months without defending the WCW World Title, and at times would not only not defend the title on PPVs, but wouldn’t even appear on them, and this was a blow to the value and credibility of the title.

The counter-argument you can make is that when Hogan did defend the title, it was against some of the biggest stars in the world: Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, The Giant, and Kevin Nash all fell in defeat to Hogan.

Can there really be more than one World Champion in the world?

Then of course you can make the argument that with one world, there can only be one World Champion, but who would it be?  There would be constant comparisons between the WWF and WCW Champions in the 90s, and whether the ECW Champion should even be in the same conversation.

But what if one promotion has two World Titles?  WWE had separate champions for Raw and Smackdown, so which was the “real” champion?  What about when the NWA Title was being defended in WCW in the early 90s?  When Ric Flair was NWA Champion in 1993, was he really a World Champion, or was Vader the “real” champion?  Or since WCW was technically the member promotion of the NWA, would that have made Vader the “regional” champion and Flair the “real” World Champion?

As you can see, there are a lot of criteria that you can take into consideration, but at the end of the day, wrestling promoters probably prefer the ambiguity since it gives them more creative freedom to shape history retroactively as they see fit.

Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow: Greatest Celebrity Match Of All Time

Some pretty improbable names have found their way into the main event of Wrestlemania over the years.  For example, fans of the Hulk Hogan era in the 80s would probably have never expected Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels to headline the biggest show of the year or, for fans of the Monday Night Wars era, you could probably say the same about people like Chris Jericho or Chris Benoit.  More recently, WWE had gone so far out of their way to bury Daniel Bryan that you would have never expected them to cave in to fan demand and put him over for the WWE Title at the show’s 30tht anniversary.

However, there was probably never a more improbable headliner in the history of Wrestlemania than former New York Giants star Lawrence Taylor, who faced Bam Bam Bigelow in the marquee match at Wrestlemania 11.  Here’s the story of how the football legend found his way into the main event of the WWF’s biggest show of the year.

LT  and his entourage were sitting ringside at Royal Rumble 1995 as invited guests of the WWF, and watched on as Bam Bam and Tatanka faced the 123 Kid and Bob “Spark Plug” Holly in the finals of a tournament for the vacant WWF Tag Team Title. Miscommunication led to Tatanka accidentally knocking Bam Bam off the top rope during a moonsault attempt, knocking him out cold and allowing the Kid to crawl over and pin him to win the title.

Tatanka and manager Ted Dibiase walked off in disgust as Bigelow came to and rolled out of the ring in shame.  As he left ringside, he couldn’t help but notice LT sitting there with his face in his hands laughing at Bigelow for losing to the Kid.  Bigelow got right up in LT’s face and Taylor stood up to apologize, saying he meant no disrespect, and held his hand out to Bigelow.

Bigelow paused to consider it for a moment, then shoved LT so hard that he flew back two rows and landed on his ass.  Bam Bam walked off as LT got to his feet, and Taylor had to be physically restrained from jumping the rail and going after Bam Bam.  LT regained his composure and sat down to watch the rest of the show, but the incident was all over the news broadcasts the next day, which was exactly what the WWF was hoping for.

In storylines, however, the WWF was extremely embarrassed by Bigelow’s conduct, and ordered him to issue a public apology to Taylor.  Bigelow refused, and in fact doubled down by continuing to insult LT.  Taylor realized that if Bigelow wouldn’t respect him, he’d have to earn it the old fashioned way, and challenged him to a match at Wrestlemania.

Despite Taylor’s reputation on the football field, Bam Bam didn’t believe LT would last a second in the ring with him, and happily accepted his challenge. Just to hedge his bets, he announced that the entire Million Dollar Corporation of Ted Dibiase, IRS, Kama, King Kong Bundy, and Nikolai Volkoff would be at ringside to “support” him.

It was a completely transparent ploy by Bam Bam, but Taylor had faced these kinds of odds before in his football days.  In that same spirit, LT put together his own all-pro team of former football players (which included future WCW US Champion Steve McMichael) to watch his back and make sure the Corporation didn’t get involved.

The WWF was thrilled with all the media coverage their involvement with LT was continuing to get, but they also knew that it would take a lot of work to get Taylor up to speed in the ring.  He obviously wasn’t a trained wrestler, and the WWF didn’t want him stinking up the joint, so they had LT and Bigelow work out in secret for weeks leading into Wrestlemania.

Under the watchful eye of Vince McMahon’s lieutenant Pat Patterson, whom Vince had previously assigned to Mr. T. when he appeared at the first two Wrestlemanias, Bam Bam and Taylor carefully laid out their match and practiced everything over and over to make sure they had it down.  Bam Bam definitely didn’t want to be embarrassed in such a high-profile match, and even told LT that he would flatten him if he didn’t take the match seriously.

The WWF went out of their way to throw as much pomp and circumstance into the event as they could.  Salt-N-Pepa performed “Whatta Man” before the main event, and Howard Finkel did a football game-like introduction as the members of the Million Dollar Corporation and LT’s All Pro Team ran down to ringside.

Finally, with the wrestling and sports worlds watching, Bam Bam and Taylor made their entrances and prepared to do battle.  Pat Patterson was the referee for the match to make sure that LT and Bam Bam stayed on course, but thankfully, the match ended up going so well that some have called it the Flair-Steamboat of celebrity matches.

Thanks to all the hard work and preparation, Taylor came off like a seasoned worker even though he was really just playing connect the dots under the direction of Patterson and Bigelow.  That’s not to undersell Taylor, he was inexperienced and needed the guidance, but he had a very physically taxing night, and to his credit, he didn’t shy away from the rigors of what he’d signed up for.

Bam Bam also deserves credit for going out of his way to make Taylor look good, especially given that LT wasn’t coming back after this.  LT kicked out of both the top rope headbutt and the moonsault, then came back and hit a gutwrench suplex (though the announcers tried to sell it as a powerbomb) before knocking Bigelow out with a forearm off the second rope and scoring the win.

Against all odds, Lawrence Taylor had defeated Bam Bam Bigelow at his own game and gained retribution for Bam Bam’s disrespect.  Bigelow, on the other hand, was berated all the way back to the locker room by Dibiase for losing to a football player, and was kicked out of the Corporation entirely just weeks later.

Bam Bam turned babyface and began feuding with the Corporation, but never received the push you might have expected him to get for doing the Lawrence Taylor match.  He really deserved it for agreeing to put over a non-wrestler on the biggest stage in the business, even one of Taylor’s stature, but the truth was that the angle was never done for Bam Bam, and he continued to slide down the totem pole and left the company before the end of the year.

The WWF had gotten a ton of mainstream media coverage out of the LT match, but it didn’t end up giving them the same long-term boost that Mr. T. had a decade earlier.  This pretty much boiled down to the fact that, other than Shawn Michaels vs Diesel, Wrestlemania was a terrible show that highlighted how boring their overall product was.

They had more success a few years later when they brought Mike Tyson in for Wrestlemania 14, but in 1995, the WWF was right smack in the middle of a major downswing between the boom periods of the Hogan and Austin eras.  Their overall product wasn’t in a position to take advantage of the attention LT brought them, and the momentum was gone as soon as Wrestlemania 11 was in the books.

In spite of all that, and the fact that the match became a punchline for industry pundits at the time, Lawrence Taylor vs Bam Bam Bigelow was far better than anyone could have hope for.  It’s remained on its pedestal amongst other non-wrestler matches mostly because LT, smartly, never entertained thoughts about getting back in the ring ever again.

WCW One Night Stand: The WCW Reunion Show That Never Happened

It’s been over 15 years since the deaths of WCW and ECW at the time of this writing, and during the time since, there have been a LOT of ECW reunion shows. We had One Night Stand, Hardcore Homecoming, Extreme Reunion/Rising, and Hardcore Justice, and every time we think that’s going to be that, somebody else comes along to revive the company that died over 15 years ago and hasn’t stopped moving yet.

ECW is obviously held in high regard, but the fact remains that they were the distant third place company even in their heyday.  WCW, which perished only months after the final ECW show, was the real main competitor to the WWF, yet they haven’t had anywhere close to the same reverence paid to their own legacy.

Granted, WWE buries WCW’s reputation every chance they get, but with all due respect to ECW, WCW (or Jim Crockett Promotions as it was previously known) had a much deeper history than ECW ever came close to achieving, drew a hell of a lot more money, and produced a product of a much higher quality than WWE wants you to know.

In order to give WCW their just due, I imagined what we might have gotten if WWE had decided to book a truly respectful WCW reunion show as they did when they ran ECW One Night Stand in 2005. I got inspired, put pen to paper, and came up with a card of matches I would have booked if WWE lost their mind and asked me to put together a WCW reunion show, which I’ll be lazy and just call WCW One Night Stand.

For the purposes of this feature, and to try and put it somewhat within the realm of reality, let’s assume this show takes place before the big WCW names got too old, around 2004 or 2005 like ECW One Night Stand. Also, since we’re pretending this happened in the real world, that means that dead people and people with career ending injuries like Arn Anderson or Ricky Steamboat can’t participate.

Ric Flair vs Randy Savage

In my opinion, this was the greatest feud in WCW history to never have a true blowoff. What made it even better was that it built on the extremely heated feud they had in the WWF in 1992, when Flair claimed to have had Elizabeth before Savage did to try and get in the Macho Man’s head. As low as that sounds, Flair cranked the Evil Jerk Factor up about a million notches when they picked back up in WCW in 1995, attacking Savage’s 80-somthing year old father Angelo Poffo and putting him in the figure four leglock.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Flair went even further the next year when he stole the WCW World Title from Savage thanks to interference from Elizabeth, who really HAD turned on Savage and gone with Flair this time around. And just to give Savage that last little nudge over the edge, he and Elizabeth spent the next several months spending the Macho Man’s money (which Elizabeth still had access to) on lavish dinners and other luxuries. Savage blew his top so badly that WCW suspended him and sent him to a psychiatrist (in storylines, of course) because of the fear of him hurting himself or someone else (like Flair).

Unfortunately, the Savage-Flair feud ends there because the NWO invaded before they could get back in the ring with each other. With everyone in WCW forced to unite to battle the NWO, Flair and Savage were unfortunately never given the opportunity to have their big, final showdown. Because of that, this match would not only be practically required to be on the WCW reunion show, but I would even make it the main event.

Sting, Lex Luger & Diamond Dallas Page vs Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash

Speaking of unresolved feuds, the NWO invasion was obviously the storyline by which WCW became defined, but it never had a big, climactic blowoff either because the NWO fizzled out and drifted apart before some hero had the chance to deal them a deathblow that would destroy them forever so he could wave the WCW banner for all to see.

Because of that, I will blow off the feud with the same match that started the whole thing at Bash At The Beach 1996. Well, almost. Obviously, nobody knew Hogan would be the third man on the NWO team in 1996, but we’d all know where he stands going into this one. Also, even though Savage was on the original WCW team and was the guy who took the Legdrop Heard ‘Round The World, his match with Flair takes precedence. Since DDP later became one of WCW’s top soldiers in the war with the NWO, he gets the nod as the “replacement” third member of the WCW team.

Vader vs Bill Goldberg

There’s no real background to this one, they were never in WCW or WWE at the same time, and have probably never even met each other, but I put this match together because they were essentially the same type of character at different points in WCW history. Vader was the indestructible heel who not only couldn’t be beaten for the WCW World Title during his 18 months as champion in 1992-93, but usually put anyone who tried in the hospital with his brutal offense.

Goldberg came along later on and wound up on the babyface side, but was equally indestructible, and also known to get excessively violent with people he had a grudge with. Vader and Goldberg would face off for the first, and most likely only, time in a battle to determine the baddest monster in WCW history.

Lord Steven Regal vs Fit Finlay

I could watch these two wrestle each other all day. Seriously, they know each other inside and out, they obviously love working together, and they both seem to get a real enjoyment out of trying to knock each other’s lights out. They were both still in great shape and could really go at this point, so it’s an easy call to book a match between these two and watch the fun begin.

Chris Benoit vs Booker T (Best 2 of 3 Falls)

Though these two had always been recognized as exceptionally talented wrestlers, their best of seven series in 1998 elevated both of them to a point where people saw them as potential future main eventers. They revisited the feud here and there over the years, but when you say Benoit vs Booker T, these are the matches people think of, so I’d put them together in another “best X of Y” situation, only in a single match instead of a series.

NWO Battle Royal (NWO Sting, Vincent, Big Bubba Rogers, VK Wallstreet, Konnan, Syxx, The Giant, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, Stevie Ray)

I know what you’re thinking: this is the WCW version of the gimmick battle royal. You’re kind of thinking along the right lines because you can look at who’s in it and see that there aren’t many people who meant much to the grand scheme of things, but I wanted to throw it in to pay homage to the colorful array of folks who, because somebody somewhere though it was a good idea at the time, wound up in an NWO t-shirt.

Dustin Rhodes vs Barry Windham

Another feud that was never settled: Windham turned on Rhodes following their loss of the WCW World Tag Team Title in late 1992, but they never got around to feuding because Dustin got the US Title, Windham got the NWA Title, and they concentrated on those instead of each other. I don’t know that anyone was dying to see this match and I don’t know how good it would have been given age and injury considerations at the time this show would take place, but I think it would be a cool bonus for longtime fans like me who don’t like loose ends.

Eddy Guerrero vs Dean Malenko vs Rey Mysterio, Jr vs Chris Jericho

Though history and the matches I’m including in this fantasy card both tell you that the NWO was the biggest thing to ever come to WCW, the Cruiserweight Division was right behind them. WCW pushed the division very hard from the moment Nitro launched, and the athleticism we saw in Cruiserweight matches was heavily featured as a way of setting WCW’s stars apart from the more character-driven WWF roster.

Many men (and some women) held the Cruiserweight Title over the years, but the four who I put in this match mattered the most since they were the ones whose work gave the division its identity. I played around with different combinations of these four guys before deciding that a four way, elimination-rules match would be the best way to determine the greatest Cruiserweight in WCW history.

Rick & Scott Steiner vs The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono

I was kind of stuck when trying to come up with a match for the Steiners, since none of their potential mega-opponents were available at the time this show would have happened. Harlem Heat wasn’t available due to Booker T wrestling singles, the Road Warriors were out because Hawk was dead, Arn & Tully were both retired (or close enough to it), no Midnight Express anymore, and the Outsiders were already in the WCW vs NWO six man.

I finally got my answer the other night while watching Bash At The Beach 1997, where the Steiners faced Muta & Chono, the top members of NWO Japan, in one of a series of great, physical matches that were forgotten against the background of the NWO storyline. These teams had three or four really good, hard hitting matches that ended up setting the Steiners back on the road to the tag title (and eventually their split as a team), and I think that in the absence of other viable opponents, I could do way worse than to put these two teams together one last time.

Vince McMahon’s Chosen Ones: The Greatest Hits (And Misses)

Every few years, some new wrestler comes to WWE, the lights go on in Vince McMahon’s eyes, and he decides to take a personal hand in grooming them to become his next big star. These pet projects are stubbornly rigid in the way they are presented regardless of how the fans react, and typically get an inordinate amount of TV time to condition the fans to accept them a a big deal.

Sometimes the Chosen Ones work out, and the fans jump on board without any hesitation. Others have been crammed down the fans’ throats to the point where they just give up and deal with the guy until the people they actually want to see are on their TVs. In extreme cases, fans have walked away from WWE completely rather than be subjected to a constant barrage of someone they can’t stand, eating up what was once their favorite show.

Vince McMahon has shown a willingness to keep pushing people he believes in beyond what some others would consider the point of sanity. From Vince’s perspective, his endorsement is a big deal that should matter to his customers…and the Chosen Ones had better deliver because he hasn’t shown much understanding for people who disappoint him.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of Vince McMahon’s pet projects and their successes…or lack thereof.

Hulk Hogan: The Chosen One by whom all others are judged. Vince certainly has his idea of what a corporate superstar is supposed to be, and Hogan fit the bill perfectly. He was big, strong, had a ton of charisma, and best of all, he was able to stand up to the extremely high demands of not only drawing well as champion, but presenting well in media appearances and other engagements like charity work that reflected well on the company.

The relationship between Vince and Hogan has been hot and cold at various times over the years, but I think that if both men are being honest, they’ll admit that they’re both much the better for having worked together, and it’s questionable whether the business would exist as it does today if it weren’t for the McMahon-Hogan partnership.

The Ultimate Warrior: Warrior was Vince’s first real attempt at creating a “new Hogan” who could be his top draw if and when the original needed to be replaced. After spending a couple of years running roughshod over the midcard as the Intercontinental Champion, Warrior became the only person to get a clean win over Hogan during his 1983-93 run, and took his place as the WWF’s flagbearer while Hogan stepped aside to film Suburban Commando.

Unfortunately, in spite of the push he was given on TV, business was down from Hogan’s heyday, and Warrior wasn’t really equipped to be much help turning that momentum around. In fact, Wrestlemania went from filling the Toronto Skydome when Hogan dropped the title to Warrior, to being moved from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the Los Angeles Sports Arena, a much smaller building, due to extremely poor ticket sales. Warrior was also nowhere near as good a public representative as Hogan due to his often incomprehensible ramblings and penchant for saying offensive things.

After taking everything into consideration, Vince decided to give up on the Warrior experiment and had him drop the WWF Title to Sgt Slaughter. Warrior then crossed the line with Vince by holding him up for more money at Summerslam 91, and was fired the instant he came back to the dressing room as a result. He returned at Wrestlemania 8, but was gone again in only seven months because of more backstage issues.

Amazingly, Vince brought Warrior back yet a third time in 1996, and this time he only lasted about three months before he started skipping advertised appearances. Vince still gave him the chance to post an appearance bond that would allow him to keep working for the WWF, but Warrior refused and was fired yet again.

Warrior did eventually mend fences with Vince and came home to accept his Hall of Fame induction during Wrestlemania 30 weekend, but things were rocky for a very long time. WWE produced a DVD called The Self Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior, where they got nearly everyone working for them to talk about what a pain in the ass he was to work with. This led to a lawsuit that dragged on forever, and made the eventual reconciliation between WWE and the Warrior one of the most miraculous in the history of the business.

Lex Luger: Vince did everything he could to turn Luger into a new Hulk Hogan when the original left the WWF in 1993. After spending several months as a self-centered character called the Narcissist, Luger suddenly was running around in red, white, and blue tights, bodyslamming big fat guys, and was even riding around the country on a tour bus called the Lex Express to try and raise grassroots support from the fans. Vince had done everything he could to make Luger his guy, but for a number of reasons, he never got over the way Vince had hoped.

Between poor booking decisions like having Luger beat Yokozuna at Summerslam 93 by countout and then celebrate like he won the title, and also the fact that his patriotism seemed somewhat forced, he never came through as a truly viable alternative to Hogan. In fact, when they did the tied finish at Royal Rumble 1994 with Luger and Bret Hart, Bret clearly got the better reaction of the two even though he had been buried for a year while Luger was pushed to the moon.

Luger was eventually busted down to working the opening match at Wrestlemania 11, was stuck in a tag team with the British Bulldog, then snuck out of the WWF and showed up on Nitro in one final slap in the face to the company.

Diesel: Diesel was a funny case because he was already super over with the fans, but once Vince decided to make him the top star in the company, all the stuff that made him cool like the sarcasm and badass killer instinct were gone. Instead, Diesel spent a full year as a high fiving, baby kissing corporate champion who stood up for truth, justice and all that was right in the world. Houses dropped off to almost nothing as his feuds with Sid and King Mabel sent fans running for the hills, and Bret Hart again came to the rescue by beating Diesel for the title at Survivor Series 95.

Amazingly enough, Diesel returned to his old self literally within seconds of losing the title, knocking out referees and repeatedly powerbombing Bret Hart. Diesel changed in the blink of an eye, and when we spent the next six months before he left for WCW watching him casually pick fights with the Undertaker and sadistically powerbomb Shawn Michaels through a table, we saw the fans immediately react and embrace him again since that was what got him over in the first place.

The Rock: I think this is a pretty familiar story to most fans, but here goes: when Rock first came to the company as Rocky Maivia, the fans hated him. They drilled into our heads how he was the son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of Peter Maivia, and he was doing the same smiling, high fiving babyface crap that had failed to work already for both Luger and Diesel. It finally took Rock turning on the fans because of the way they treated him before he started earning any respect.

Rocky lucked out that this transformation happened as the Attitude Era was starting, because it allowed him to let more of his colorful personality out and it eventually transformed him into possibly the best promo guy in the history of the business. He went on to make a ton of money for the company and, even after years away from the business, returned to the ring and drew the highest PPV buyrate in wrestling history for his Wrestlemania match with John Cena.

Vince was right that he had the potential, but never would have gotten there if he’d been forced to stick with the vanilla Rocky Maivia character.

Brock Lesnar: Brock Lesnar was the first surefire, can’t miss prospect to come along since Hogan. He had it all: size, speed, athletic ability, a background in amateur wrestling, a really crappy attitude, and the ability to channel it into really good promos. He was booked to beat literally every top star of the previous 15 years that WWE could throw at him, and he won the WWE Title within five months of his TV debut. He main evented PPVs, had great matches, and best of all was still only in his mid-20s. Lesnar was the best thing Vince could have hoped for and, barring some unforseen, life-changing event that would take him out, Lesnar WOULD be the guy carrying his company for years to come.

Unfortunately, instead of losing him to injury or poor booking, Lesnar simply decided he didn’t want to be on the road anymore and quit a week before Wrestlemania 20. Lesnar burned WWE badly with the way he handled his departure, and it’s been long suspected that the rough treatment newcomers to WWE are given is done specifically to test their reactions because they never want to put as much work into someone and have them leave like Brock did.

John Cena: Though he may not be the most popular guy in the world with a certain segment of WWE’s fanbase, he’s the greatest thing in the world to the segment that matters the most to WWE: the kids who buy his merchandise and get their parents to buy PPVs or the WWE Network to watch him wrestle. Though it’s hard to believe now, he didn’t get where he is overnight, and he wasn’t always presented as an unbeatable superhero.

Cena went through the channels and worked his way up to where he is now, starting out in the indies in California and, after spending a long time in developmental, worked his way literally from the bottom up once called to the main roster. Cena is a better worker than people give him credit for, is certainly a better worker than Hogan ever was, and a MUCH easier person to deal with behind the scenes. He’s done whatever the company has asked of him, and in addition to basically eliminating his personal life for the good of the company, is exactly the kind of guy WWE wants as their public face who goes on talk shows and makes other media appearances.

While he may appeal more to the entire audience if he was given a little more freedom to stray away from poop jokes once in a while, he’s probably as close to an ideal top star from WWE’s perspective as anyone they’ve ever had, including Hogan. Fans still turn on him to this day, but Vince stuck with him and, in Cena’s case, it paid off.

Randy Orton: Orton has been on TV for WWE for a long time now, and while he’s developed into one of the best all-around guys they have, it took him an incredibly long time to get there, to the point where a lot of people wondered why Vince insisted on continuing to push him and get negligible results.

At first they literally tried to make him a copy of the Rock, right down to having him turn heel on the fans who booed him, giving him a long Intercontinental Title reign (with constant references to him being the longest-reigning IC Champion since the Rock), and sticking him in a group where he was the obvious young breakout star. He was given the World Title at 24 years old (thought by many to be so they could erase Lesnar’s record as the youngest champion), then had him lose it to Triple H a month later and turned him babyface.

The original idea was to build to a Triple H vs Orton main event at Wrestlemania, but Orton didn’t get over as a babyface, so they abandoned the origina plan and instead turned Orton heel again and matched him up with the Undertaker. His poor in-ring work and boring, monotone interviews made him very difficult to accept as a star, and repeated reports of poor personal conduct outside the ring made people wonder who he had incriminating photos of that kept him from getting fired.

It wasn’t until he suddenly grew storyline mental problems and became the Viper that the character started to work, but it was very frustrating to watch him get there.

Ken Kennedy: The legend was that Vince liked Kennedy (now Ken Anderson in TNA) so much that he gave him his middle name to use as his ring name. Kennedy got pushed very hard, very quickly, to the point where he defeated just about every former WWE Champion on the roster in his first year. He won the Money In The Bank match at Wrestlemania 23, and announced afterward that he would cash it in at the following year’s show. Kennedy’s clear path to his preordained destiny was badly derailed by injuries that seemed to stop his momentum every time it started to build, and he eventually fell out of favor and was released.

Drew McIntyre: You knew Vince liked Drew because his on-screen nickname actually was The Chosen One. Unfortunately, Vince’s favor didn’t last and McIntyre wound up not just being cast aside, but was actually buried by being booked to lose almost every match he had and wound up stuck in the lame Three Man Band gimmick. He was eventually released, and has since made a solid name for himself on the independents and in TNA.

* * *

When you look back at Vince’s track record, you realize that some of these guys worked out better than others, but when Vince picks a good one, he hits really big. Being the face of WWE is absolutely NOT an easy job, and for every Hulk Hogan or John Cena who can swing it, there’s a Warrior or Lesnar who cracks under the pressure. It’s not an easy job, but it is easy to see why that endorsement from Vince is so rare, and when it comes, the person who gets it better damn well deliver.

Yokozuna Or Vader: Who Was Better?

Back in 1993, both the WWF and WCW were dominated by huge, monster heel champions.  Given that they were so similar in size, WWF Champion Yokozuna and WCW World Champion Big Van Vader were often compared, and though they did eventually meet in the ring years later in the WWF, they were both past their prime and weren’t put in a position to have the kind of match they might have had they crossed paths in 1993.  Today, let’s take a look at each man’s time at the top of their respective companies, then see about how they measure up to one another overall.

Yokozuna had steamrolled to the WWF Title less than six months after his debut, defeating Bret “Hitman” Hart in the main event of Wrestlemania 9.  Though he immediately lost it in an impromptu match with Hulk Hogan right after defeating Hart, Yokozuna regained it about two months later and sent Hogan packing from the WWF for nearly a decade. For the next nine months, every top WWF star, including Bret Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage, Lex Luger, and the Undertaker, tried and failed to dethrone Yokozuna. Some challengers, like Crush, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and Tatanka were actually put out of action for weeks or months at a time with internal injuries after suffering the wrath of the 568 pound champion.

After that lengthy reign of terror, Yokozuna finally lost the title to Bret Hart in the main event of Wrestlemania 10 in what, to be fair, was a fluke loss.  Yokozuna was setting up for the Banzai Drop as he looked to close in on yet another win over the Hitman, but he lost his balance on the ropes, fell backward, and knocked himself out.  Hart quickly jumped on Yokozuna, hooked the leg, and pinned him to regain the WWF Title.  Yokozuna never got a rematch with Bret, and I don’t believe he ever even challenged for the WWF Title again.

Over in WCW, Big Van Vader had also been rampaging over the company, leaving a pile of broken bodies and defeated challengers in his wake.  Vader actually won the WCW World Title for the first time in mid-1992, about a year before Yokozuna’s win over Hogan, but he also quickly lost it to Ron Simmons (just not as quickly as Yokozuna lost to Hogan).  Vader regained the title from Simmons just days before 1993 dawned and, aside from a six day hiccup when Sting beat him on an overseas tour, Vader reigned supreme over WCW for nearly the entire year of 1993.

The prospect of facing Vader may have been even more terrifying than Yokozuna, because while Yokozuna was a huge, powerful man who put a lot of people on the shelf, his goal (usually) wasn’t to injure his opponents, it just kind of happened because of how devastating the Banzai Drop was.  On the other hand, Vader loved crippling and maiming his opponents, and had actually began to collect “trophies” of those he had injured: the broken back of Joe Thurman, the ribs of Sting, the shoulder of Ron Simmons, and the severed ear of Cactus Jack.  Wrestling Vader wasn’t a question of winning or losing, it became a matter of survival.

Interestingly, his eventual title loss to Ric Flair was similar to Yokozuna’s in that it was basically a fluke loss.  Though Flair did his best to hang in with Vader, the champion spent the match completely dominating his challenger, who had put his career on the line for one shot at the WCW World Title.  Vader was dishing out his special brand of violence when Flair grabbed his leg, caused Vader to fall on his back, and cradled him for the win.  Vader did get a couple of title matches later on in both the WWF and WCW, but like Yokozuna, he was never a World Champion again.

Both men were the right guys at the right time in the right companies, but let’s compare the important points and see if we can decide who was really better.  I think Vader was more athletic since he was lighter on his feet, took better bumps, and could do a moonsault.  On the other hand, Yokozuna was the better worker since the injuries his opponents suffered were all storyline-based, while Vader had a reputation for accidentally hurting people for real.  You never heard of anyone legitimately getting hurt wrestling Yokozuna, which is impressive considering how much of his repertoire involved dropping his entire body weight on people.

Vader’s offense looked more devastating overall as he was just a monster who would pummel even the toughest babyfaces into oblivion with punches in the corner, the powerbomb looked like it broke people in half (and had been booked at one point  to put Cactus Jack on the shelf for months), and the moonsault was just awesome to behold.  Yokozuna’s offense wasn’t anything to sneeze at, the Banzai Drop alone probably looked more destructive than anything in Vader’s repertoire, but his strength in this department was that he was much better at selling a beating than Vader was.

While Vader just kind of stood there getting punched until he fell down and (in my opinion) went down too easily to a clothesline or some other big shot, Yokozuna had this great way of getting this look on his face like he was getting his bell rung, and would build anticipation for him going down by staggering around the ring and doing “He’s almost down…almost down…” to build to him finally getting knocked off his feet. It meant something when Yokozuna went down, especially if someone managed to do it with a single shot.

It kind of goes downhill from here for Vader, because another thing he did that I didn’t like was that, for a 450 pound man, he got slammed and suplexed WAY too often.  It was great that he could move like a light heavyweight when performing offensive moves, but a guy that size shouldn’t be getting tossed around as a routine part of a match. Yokozuna was bodyslammed all of four times that I’m aware of, and again, it meant something when Yokozuna got slammed.

Yokozuna also had better timing than Vader, because he would be on the ropes and getting beaten up by an opponent, but then a quick chop to the throat or belly-to-belly suplex and the momentum was right back in his favor.  Vader never quite had that same sense, and the matches he had with the most dramatic shifts in momentum were usually with Sting, who had an uncanny sense for the perfect time to switch things up.

In terms of big match experience, Yokozuna had the clear edge since he main evented Wrestlemania twice, was in a heavily promoted Summerslam main event against Lex Luger, and won the Royal Rumble. Vader’s “big” main event experience basically included Starrcade against Flair and Summerslam against Shawn Michaels, and that just doesn’t measure up to what Yokozuna did.

I think it’s pretty clear after reading all this that, by my estimation, the chips all fall in Yokozuna’s favor here.  The guy was just the total package, he was the first heel champion the WWF had ever truly gotten behind, he produced in the ring, and he was instrumental in carrying the company out of the Hogan Era.  I’ve often wondered if the WWF was using the same criteria when judging Vader since, after his initial run to the Summerslam main event against Shawn Michaels, he never got close to a main event again.